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Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

World History is no longer accepting new applications.


The MPhil in World History is a nine-month full-time programme, which combines formal teaching with the integration of students into the research culture of the History Faculty by joining a group of researchers within a field.

The MPhil involves three assessed components:

  1. a core course (eight two-hour classes) worth ten per cent of the overall mark
  2. two option courses chosen from a list offered by the Faculty (eight two-hour classes for each option) each worth ten per cent of the overall mark
  3. a dissertation (15,000–20,000 words) worth 70 per cent of the overall mark

Students will also be expected to study a language, agreed with the MPhil Director. This is normally chosen from those offered by the University’s Language Centre (at a preliminary, intermediate or advanced level). This is not an assessed element of the course but will help students develop the skills required to complete an MPhil in World History. For more information visit the Language Centre website.   

In addition, students are required to attend the weekly World Research Seminar and the weekly World History Graduate Workshop.

One to one supervision

All students admitted to the MPhil in World History will be assigned a supervisor to work with them throughout the course, but crucially on the dissertation.

Students will meet regularly with their supervisor for one-on-one supervisions throughout the course. The frequency of supervisions will vary depending on the time of year, with the regularity of meetings increasing as the year progresses and the student begins to focus more on the dissertation. Students can expect at least one supervision session per term and normally eight across the year.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

All students will take the core module, Debates in World History, run weekly over Michaelmas Term. This course is historiographically based, engaging students with key scholarship, classic texts, and their revisions. Several origins and traditions of world history, global history, transnational history, and regional history will be established and questioned in student-led seminar discussion.

Students will also select two modules from a list of options offered by the Faculty's seven MPhil courses. Typically, students will select one module in Michaelmas term and one module in the Lent term. The courses offered each year may vary, but an illustrative list is available here.

In recent years, World History's optional courses have included:

  • The East Asia Region
  • The Caribbean in World History
  • The Cold War and Its Aftermath in East Asia (offered jointly with the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies)
  • Elections, Polls and Policy in South Asia (offered jointly with the Centre of South Asian Studies)
  • Empires in Comparative Perspective
  • Knowledge and Power in South Asia from 1700 to the Present (offered jointly with the Centre of South Asian Studies)
  • Labouring Lives in the Global South
  • Print Cultures in World History

Students are required to attend and participate in the weekly World Research Seminar. Students are encouraged to ask questions and to engage with speakers.

Language classes will vary according to Language Centre availability and arrangements for history-specific language options. A standard Cambridge University Language Programme expects two hours of self-study per week through Michaelmas and Lent terms.


Although not compulsory, students are welcome to attend relevant undergraduate lectures as indicated by their supervisor.


All students will present their work at least once during the academic year and will receive feedback from academics and peers on their work-in-progress. This is not an assessed element of the course but is a valuable feedback tool for the dissertation.


Students will receive regular constructive feedback throughout the MPhil.

Students can expect to receive:

  • regular oral feedback from his/her supervisor, as well as termly online feedback reports;
  • written feedback on essays and assessments;
  • oral feedback from peers during graduate workshops and/or seminars;
  • written and oral feedback on dissertation proposal essay to be discussed with his/her supervisor; and
  • formal written feedback from two examiners after examination of a dissertation.


Thesis / Dissertation

The thesis is Part II of the MPhil in World History.

All students will submit a thesis of 15,000–20,000 words, worth 70 per cent of the overall mark. 

At the discretion of the examiners, the examination may include an oral examination on the thesis and the general field of knowledge within which it falls.


Each of three modules in Michaelmas and Lent term (one Compulsory Core, and two Options) will require a 3,000–4,000 word essay (or equivalent). 

Each will count toward 10 per cent of the final degree mark, for a total of 30 per cent. Taken together, these are Part I, and students must receive passing marks in order to move to Part II.

Students will also prepare a 2,000-word dissertation proposal essay due in the Lent term. This essay will be unassessed but students will meet with their supervisor to discuss the essay and get feedback in preparation for the dissertation.

All students will also undertake language training which is compulsory but does not form part of the assessment for the MPhil. Students will be assessed by exam by the Language Centre for the purposes of feedback. 

Practical assessment

All students will present their work at least once during the academic year and will receive feedback from academics and peers on their work-in-progress. This is not an assessed element of the course but is a valuable feedback tool for the dissertation.

Key Information

9 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Faculty of History

Course – related enquiries

Application – related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
March 31, 2021
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2021

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 7, 2021
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2020

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2021, Lent 2022 and Easter 2022.

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